Mexican carry: misunderstood as to both history and application, this common practice can cause some well-documented problems.

Author:Ayoob, Massad
Position:Handguns

In the 2004 American Handgunner Annual, in an article on concealed handgun carry, I made the point that there were a lot of reasons not to simply stuff the pistol into the waistband without a holster. This practice is known colloquially as Mexican Carry. One reader wrote, shocked, to ask why I would use such a "racist" term. I was reminded that we old, gray gunnies can't take for granted that the new generation knows where our ancient lingo came from.

Honorable History

If you go back to the roots of this term, you find that there is no racism, nor anything else pejorative in "Mexican Carry." The lore of the gun tells us that back in the 19th Century, the Mexican vaquero, much like the American cowboy, was an independent and self-reliant sort who often made it a point to carry a handgun. Alas, the history of 19th century Mexico was entailed one despot rising after another. The day came when the average citizen was stripped of his former right to go armed when he wished.

This did not sit well with the fiercely freedom-loving caballeros. They grudgingly took off their gun belts and holsters, because possession of those accoutrements would be seen as evidence that they had violated the draconian new laws that disarmed them. However, they defiantly kept their handguns, simply stuffing them into the waistband behind their ordinary belt. If the Federales hove into view, the citizen would simply slip his revolver into some discreet place where he could retrieve it later.

Thus, as I understand the history of the matter, there's nothing culturally negative about "Mexican Carry," as it became known. When we use the term, we're paying homage to generations of men south of the border who refused to give up the right to protect themselves and their families because petty tyrants attempted to make them helpless.

Theory and Practice

As noted in the Handgunner Annual piece, professionals have gotten away from Mexican carry. The gun can shift inside the waistband. It can even slip out unnoticed when you lie down for a nap. On a sedentary day that involves nothing more strenuous than a walk through the mall, you may get by with Mexican carry, but the moment action takes place--running, fighting, you name it--the chance increases exponentially that the insecurely-held pistol may become dislodged.

Some handguns carry better this way than others. One fellow thrust a cocked derringer, loaded with a .410 shotshell, inside his waistband. The spur trigger struck the...

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